Community snapshots: Community Haven Great Gatsby Tea, Ag on the Hill and East Manatee ECO Rotary Club wins chili cook-off

April 19, 2013 

Great Gatsby Ladies Tea a huge hit

Community Haven for Adults and Children with Disabilities had a fantastic turnout for their annual Spring tea last month with the help of perfect weather and dedicated staff and supporters -- many from the Service Club of Manatee County and Entre Nous Club. This year's theme, "The Great Gatsby," drew a fun crowd dressed in their 1920s finest who enjoyed hors d'oeuvres, tea, punch, and desserts while listening to a Renaissance recorder quartet playing music from the 15th through 18th centuries. Each of the guests was photographed with the Great Gatsby (local actor Justin Irwin) in front of a 1920s Model T donated by Mr. and Mrs. Grimes. One of Community Haven's most generous donor in terms of time and financial contributions -- Phyllis Siskel -- was recognized with a gift of a photo collage created by the Selby Preschool children who sang several songs at the event. Much appreciation goes to host Mary Thomas, and event committee members Alice Trice, Sandra Robinson and Missy Eckenrod. Beautiful table decorations were provided by Josey's Poseys and art-deco cupcakes by Gail Thompson.A SkillsUSA community service project became personal for Manatee Technical Institute's Patient Care Technician students when they participated in the Relay for Life event on April 14. Crystal Robles, an 18-year-old high school student in the program, was diagnosed with stage-four carcinoma just weeks before the event. The students designed "I'm Walking for Crystal" T-shirts to wear to the event to show their support for their classmate. Student Grady Barr decided to take it a step further. He walked for Crystal during the entire 18-hour event. The Relay for Life cause is very close to Grady's heart because he has lost three family members, including his mother, to cancer. When asked about the challenge he faced in walking for so many hours, Grady smiled and said, "The mental and physical pain that I'll endure is nothing compared to what our loved ones have endured."

East Manatee ECO Rotary Club wins chili cook-off

In March, the ECO Rotary Club of East Manatee entered the second annual Chili Cook-off Challenge at the Parrish Heritage Days Parade and Festival. Club president Ross Russo was recruited by the membership to create the winning entry in spite of the fact that he claimed to have never made chili before. The Rotary team actually cooked two different batches calling one "Spicy Heat" and the other "Nicely Sweet." Since only one entry per team was allowed to be submitted, the "Nicely Sweet" was dubbed the winner out of the field of 22 entries. The ECO Rotary Club of East Manatee has been supporting the Parrish Heritage Day festivities for several years and once again staffed the beer booth for the Parrish Civic Association with all proceeds going to the Parrish Foundation.

Pictured: Ben Jordan, vice president of the Parrish Foundation, left, presents Ross Russo, the $500 grand prize check. Jordan was presented with a check from the ECO Rotary Club of East Manatee returning $250 to the Parrish Foundation.

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